Signs of in­fight­ing as Trump weighs key posts

The Myanmar Times - - World -

PRES­I­DENT-ELECT Don­ald Trump pressed ahead with ef­forts to build his cabi­net with for­mer New York mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani tipped for sec­re­tary of state, but re­ports said vi­cious in­fight­ing was hob­bling the cru­cial process.

The Repub­li­can bil­lion­aire drew a bar­rage of crit­i­cism over his pick of chief strate­gist: the anti-es­tab­lish­ment fire­brand Steve Ban­non, one­time head of the provoca­tive Bre­it­bart web­site seen by crit­ics as a dar­ling of white su­prem­a­cists.

Top ally Mr Gi­u­liani, hawk­ish for­mer UN am­bas­sador John Bolton, re­tired gen­eral Michael Flynn and Alabama Sen­a­tor Jeff Ses­sions were all re­ported to be on the short­list for a top ad­min­is­tra­tion job.

But the high-stakes process of fill­ing more than a dozen cabi­net posts has been tu­mul­tuous by many ac­counts. One source cited by CNN de­scribed the in­tense lob­by­ing as a “knife fight”.

Vice pres­i­dent-elect and tran­si­tion leader Mike Pence spent much of the day at Trump Tower, which has been a hive of ac­tiv­ity since the elec­tion, but his only com­ment to me­dia as he left was “Great day”.

Among other sight­ings at the Man­hat­tan high-rise was Ted Cruz, the arch-con­ser­va­tive Texas sen­a­tor whom the real es­tate mogul at­tacked re­lent­lessly dur­ing the Repub­li­can pri­maries, dub­bing him “Lyin’ Ted”.

Ja­son Miller, a tran­si­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser, told re­porters Mr Trump and Mr Pence would be “re­view­ing a num­ber of names” for cabi­net po­si­tions, in­clud­ing “non­tra­di­tional names”.

But Mr Trump’s tran­si­tion team has faced a string of set­backs as it tack­les the daunt­ing task of build­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tion with the clout to sup­port the 70-year-old po­lit­i­cal novice when he takes of­fice.

The first shake-up came on Novem­ber 11, when Mr Trump reshuf­fled the team, plac­ing Mr Pence in charge. Then on Novem­ber 15, the tran­si­tion team’s head of na­tional se­cu­rity, Mike Rogers, re­signed in what was in­ter­preted as a new sign of dis­ar­ray.

Fur­ther re­in­forc­ing the im­pres­sion of ten­sions, The New York Times re­ported on Novem­ber 15 that Mr Trump had re­moved from the tran­si­tion team a sec­ond top de­fence and for­eign pol­icy of­fi­cial, con­sul­tant Matthew Freed­man.

On Novem­ber 13, Mr Trump named Reince Priebus, a main­stream Repub­li­can op­er­a­tive who backed Mr Trump while chair of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, as his White House chief of staff.

Mr Trump’s choice of Mr Priebus – an­nounced at the same time as Mr Ban­non – sug­gested a leader torn be­tween a prom­ise to shake up Wash­ing­ton and the need to build a cabi­net with po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and con­nec­tions with Congress.

Ac­cord­ing to a top aide, Mr Gi­u­liani, a mem­ber of Mr Trump’s in­ner cir­cle, is a “se­ri­ous” con­tender to be­come the next sec­re­tary of state.

At a re­cent forum spon­sored by The Wall Street Jour­nal, Mr Gi­u­liani out­lined his for­eign pol­icy vi­sion, putting the fight against the Is­lamic State group atop his agenda, and ar­gu­ing that Rus­sia was not a mil­i­tary threat to Amer­ica.

Mr Bolton, a neo-con­ser­va­tive hawk and for­mer un­der­sec­re­tary of state, was also re­ported to be in the run­ning for the top post.

He was a con­tro­ver­sial choice for UN en­voy in 2005, hav­ing once said if the UN head­quar­ters lost 10 floors, “it wouldn’t make a bit of dif­fer­ence”.

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